Admiration for Tinman Triathletes.


Drizzly morning at the start of the Hawaii Tin Man in Waikiki.

@postaday 208; #postaday2011.

“But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man/
That he didn’t, didn’t already have…”

When I grow up, I wanna be a triathlete, too!

This morning I woke up early, the same time I get up for work, to ride my bicycle at the butt-crack of dawn to see the start of Hawaii’s Tinman triathlon event at 5:45 a.m. My ride in Hawaii Kai was already coned off but I passed the cone truck on Kalanianaole Highway before Maunalua Bay, so I was extra careful on the way to Waikiki. Along the Waialae Country Club golf course, I encountered no cars, and none passed me on Kahala Avenue until I was approaching Black Point. Then, while on Diamond Head Road, there was some punks-in-hot-rods stupidity going on at the lookouts. I expected to get harassed, especially when the BMW driver turned his lights on as I passed, but they didn’t bother with me. Thank goodness.

Triathletes and their bicycles launch through the chute at Kapiolani Park.

I got down to the Tinman start, which was relatively calm with the hum of triathletes tweaking their transition spots, and walking over to the start of the swim. I ran into two of my friends, Kevin, aka @ElementalGeek on Twitter; and Margie Davis, the Koko Head kindergarten teacher who taught both of my daughters and is a good friend of the family. They were both really calm. I think the gray of the morning is conducive to pre-race mellowness.

Swim caps are used to segregate the swimmers, and the first “elite” wave was that of those in yellow caps. Water patrol, aka, contracted beach control dudes on stand-up “SUP” paddle boards and surfboards, helped the swimmers stay on course. I was relieved to see that, as my swimming time for the Na Wahine Festival Swim and Spin event in September could possibly double because I have a tendency to zig zag! 

Transition from swim to bicycle segments.
Triathletes run with their bicycles from the transition area.

The first wave of swimmers was amazingly fast. They make it look easy. I sometimes think I make swimming look easy, too, but, I get my heart rate up and I really work hard when I’m in the water. The second wave of swimmers, in blue swim caps, took off about five minutes after the elites. There were other waves in different colored caps, red, green, orange, gray/black. When the first swimmer made it to land, I headed over to the bicycle transition area so I could watch. It wasn’t that easy for me as it was set off the road a little bit, but I got a pretty good idea of what I should expect in September.

The triathletes now had to get to their bikes, put on their helmets and sunglasses, and run their bicycles over a threshold that would register the timing chip in the ankle bracelet provided for the race. I stood by that chute and listened as the computer chirped with each passing athlete. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!

I wonder why I’m so intimidated by this event. Sure, about 15 percent of the participants are amazingly fit and chiseled. But the rest are just regular folks like me. And then there are those who you just cannot believe are participating in their big baggy shorts, old T-shirts and on old bicycle tanks. What else? It really seems like this event has a lot of heart.

After watching many of the triathletes launch on their bicycles, I decided to get on my own and head back to Hawaii Kai. I thought I might climb Diamond Head with the riders, but decided it doesn’t get better than 6:15 on a Sunday morning to climb Monsarrat. So I did that part of the Na Wahine course, hitching up with the Tinman cyclists on Kalanianaole Highway. Monsarrat is getting easier and easier.

I enjoyed riding out with the cyclists. I passed a lot of them, but of course, I didn’t swim and I didn’t need to conserve my energy for a run! It was a joy to ride with a lane to ourselves, and I felt safe with the volunteers and Honolulu Police Department all over the course. A couple of guys talked with me a little bit about the weather and what it might mean going up Kamiloki “Heartbreak Hill.” Before the hill, I peeled off into my neighborhood, feeling like I had a good 30 miles left in my legs, but, I was OK with keeping it short.

John arrived from his morning run shortly after I got home. I told him I felt like I could do a Tinman, too. He agreed. He saw me riding and said I had as good a form as some of the participants he saw. He said I’d do well in the swimming and riding segments, but it would kill me to see all of those little victories run by me toward the finish. Unless, he said, I start training. I could do a   S L O W  run next year, and still not end up D F L.

Maybe he’s right.

Author: lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer is my new opponent. Writer, super sub teacher, triathlete, awesome cook, ocean girl with head-to-toe sun protection.

2 thoughts on “Admiration for Tinman Triathletes.”

  1. I was struck by how many gazelle-like racers on superb tri bikes really need to learn how to trim their rear derailleurs. There were some noisy drive trains grinding by me this morning. The Tinman does have a diverse field. I enjoyed seeing some of less-triathlete-looking competitors out ahead of the more-chiseled and better-equipped participants. Maybe the difference was swimming ability, or maybe it’s a case of you can buy a better bike, but you can’t buy a better engine. It made a fun show to distract me from my run. Nice to see you and a couple of others out there, too.

  2. I love triathlons because there is so much back and forth among participants. I’m a fast swimmer and a decent cyclist, but NOT a runner. So yes, it can be a bummer getting passed on the run, but it’s also fun to pass all those amazingly fast swimmers on my bike :-).

    I think John is spot on re: cycling. It’s my observation that you can spend a lot of $ on a bike and associated gear, but if you don’t put in the time to actually train on it, you’ll get passed by those who do. Or those cyclists were all runners and were the ones I saw bounding up Montserrat.

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